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by Diana Henry

Frozen peas are a great ingredient to have on hand. This is easy, has a real kick, and you can serve it hot or cold.
Serves 6-8


    For The Soup
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 potato, chopped
    • 1½ tsp ground cumin
    • large bunch of cilantro
    • 2 lb frozen peas
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • lemon juice, to taste

    For The Cream
    • 1½ tsp olive oil
    • 2 fresh red chiles, seeded and sliced
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • salt and pepper
    • pinch of superfine sugar (optional)


1. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy pan. Add the onion and potato and stir. Add the cumin and stir for a minute to release the aroma. Chop the cilantro stems (reserve the leaves) and add them as well, stir, add a splash of water, and cover. Sweat for about 20 minutes, adding a splash of water every so often to prevent it sticking on the bottom of the pan.

2. Add the peas, stock, cilantro leaves, and seasoning and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, then leave to cool. When at room temperature, puree in a blender and add lemon juice to taste.

3. To make the cream, heat the olive oil and saute the chiles until soft. Put into a blender and add the cream, lemon juice, and a bit of salt. Blend briefly until broken down. Add a little water to thin it out (it should be able to float on the soup but not be in thick blobs). Check the seasoning. You might think it needs the tiniest pinch of sugar. Reheat the soup before serving (or serve cold) and garnish with the cream.

• Pea and ham soup:  Cook the soup as above but use stock made from a ham bone (ensure the stock isn't too salty—dilute with water if it is). Serve with a swirl of cream and flakes of cooked ham on top.
• Pea soup with mint oil:  Make the soup as above, but omit the cumin and the cilantro; this must have a pure pea flavor. To make the oil, put 1/2 cup mild olive oil, the leaves from 4 large mint sprigs, 1/4 tsp superfine sugar, and a good squeeze of lemon juice in a blender and blend. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors infuse. Strain through a sieve and taste. Serve spoonfuls on top of the soup. Mint oil is also delicious drizzled over seared salmon fillets, or with griddled squid and chorizo. It must be eaten on the day it's made, or it loses its fresh color and flavor.



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